Sunday, June 8, 2008


I've come to develop an appreciation for the quality of decisiveness, especially as I encounter more and more indecisiveness. A common example of pathetic indecisiveness is restaurant ordering brain freeze. I knew a woman who would look at a menu for 5 minutes and then when the waiter showed up act like she had never seen the damn thing before. Just pick something to eat! Its not like you're deciding whether or not to launch the invasion of Europe for gods sake! The 64th anniversary of D-Day was Friday by the way, and I'm in the midst of a new biography of Eisenhower by Michael Korda, which is an excellent read. Ike was a guy who was decisive and based his decisions on preparation and knowledge.

This pervasive indecisiveness was brought home yesterday as GalwayGuy, GuitarMatt, and I ventured to Canterbury Park to watch some live racing and attempt to make some money on Big Brown's 'sure thing' for the Triple Crown. The lines at the window were long and, like the restaurant scenario, a number of people appeared that they had never seen the racing form before in their lives when they got to the window. It only takes 10 seconds to say, "$10 to win on the 4 horse and a $4 exacta wheel with the 4 over the 3,6, and 7". $22 is handed to the cashier and a betting slip is handed back in return. A number of folks at a big race like this are casual bettors and not real sure how it works. In keeping with the preparation and knowledge theme, the track has a simple explanation at every window, a step by step outline in every racing form which every customer receives, as well as people walking around on every level wearing vests that say 'ask me'. So if you stand in the line, get to the window, and then hold up everyone else because you don't know how to place a bet, my assumption is that you are either are incredibly lazy and refuse to prepare, or simply an idiot. Do you get the sense that perhaps I was shut out at the window a couple times yesterday? You're gd right I was!! Once again dawdling and indecisiveness by poorly prepared and clueless people causes frustration, angst, as well as financial losses for those who are prepared and relatively knowledgeable.

This indecisiveness is common in kayaking also and I confess to having played into it a number of times. The 'what day, what time, and where should we go' for an after work paddle can be the subject of a multiple email exchange. 'Minnesota Nice' comes in to play here with the "Oh whats convenient for you?", "You decide where we go", and "Heck, just let me know, I'm up for anything you guys decide". Expedition planning can be difficult also. A group of buddies finally gave up on one guy because when dates and locations were set he always had a conflict or knew of a 'better' spot to go to.

When you are on the water however, indecisiveness can be deadly. This is where preparation, knowledge, and a decisive personality are essential. Some questions absolutely require a decisive answer. Can we paddle in these seas, given the skill level of our group? Mike looks really sick, should we call for help? Should we try this crossing with thunderstorms heading in our direction?Do we keep going or turn back? These are questions that normally don't let you check the menu or racing form 7 or 8 more times and they certainly can't be answered with 'maybe'. None of us are perfect and hindsight is 20-20, but with preparation, knowledge, experience (see masthead on this blog), and a group of paddlers that realizes that decisions have consequences, we generally come out headed in the right direction.


bonnie said...

The "Minnesota nice" thing reminds me of one time when Adele (Stevie's wife, who unfortunately couldn't make it to the top-secret meeting) had called me one morning about going to the club. She was a little undecided. I'd planned to but as I started telling her, I had envisioned a sort of dawdly approach, taking the bus, stopping at a diner near the club for a big breakfast, a visit to the nearby garden center to see how much money needed to be extracted from my pockets & then on to the club.

Well, I had her at "garden center". She doesn't really like the diner near the club, though, but she said she'd pick me up (she's got a car), we could still stop there & she'd have some tea while I dined.

That's where we left it when we hung up.

I, having a moderate touch of some other regional variant of "Minnesota nice" (can't be true Minnesota nice 'cause I've never been to MN), decided to scramble to get ready & have a bowl of cereal for breakfast anyways. Heck, somebody's nice enough to give you a ride, you don't really want to make them sit & watch you feed your face...

Naturally in the meantime Adele had decided to join me having breakfast at the diner.

It's not quite O. Henry, but it was pretty funny how we managed to do that!

DaveO said...

And my guess is that, being 'Hawaii-nice', you ate your second breakfast without a word about it.

bonnie said...

Actually it was close to lunchtime so we stopped somewhere & she got a sandwich. She's not crazy about the diner I'd picked, which I'd only picked because it's right on the way.